John Galt: Turd or Misunderstood?


Chris Kluwe, punter for the Oakland Raiders, shares his opinion of Ayn Rand and her novel Atlas Shrugged in his new book Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies that goes on sale Tuesday.

Atlas Shrugged is a novel about, among other things, government coercion and its effects on man. The main character, John Galt, is an embodiment of all the qualities that Ayn Rand and objectivism esteems – capitalism, reason, independence – and he scares the hell out of a lot of people.

Kluwe concludes in his book that John Galt is a man lost to reality and living in a fantasy world. He feels that John Galt’s fatal flaw was a lack of empathy; his failure to understand the need for required charity.

Who is John Galt? To Kluwe, he is:

“A deeply flawed, sociopathic ideal of the perfect human. John Galt does not recognize the societal structure surrounding him that allows him to exist. John Galt, to be frank, is a turd.”

Kluwe goes on to explain that John Galt failed to understand that members of a societal group have a responsibility to protect the “collective goods” and provide a safety net for times of natural and life disasters. John Galt is selfish, he says; self-motivated but lacking concern for the “effects of his actions on other people.”

Kluwe is not alone in mistaking Rand’s rejection of altruism as a case for total selfishness; her dismissal of morality as acceptance for depravity. Her focus with objectivism and Atlas Shrugged is the individual and individual choice to decide. Objectivism recognizes that the outcome of personal autonomy may be immoral or selfish behavior, but the premise of the philosophy is not necessarily that human behavior is itself immoral or selfish; and that is an important distinction.

Kluwe disagrees with Rand’s view of morality, but agrees that a societal safety net cannot “be a security blanket” or motivational tool.

“If you hand one person everything in life by taking it away from someone else, then the will to succeed rapidly fades on both sides; why work when it doesn’t matter?… Ayn Rand got it right up to that point but fails to make the next logical step.”

And I think this is where the ideas of personal responsibility and individual sovereignty that objectivism, libertarianism, and the liberty movement promote lose a lot of people. Kluwe is right in a sense; John Galt needs to be more empathetic – if he wants more support.

And John Galt needs more support – the movement needs more support – if we are going to be effective. If the grassroots are mistaking who we are, isn’t that our fault?